Congress is Perpetual Litigation

When important facts resist your model of reality, your model is wrong.  The American political chattering class has never found a non-fiction model for the State, and so are ever frustrated that  “government isn’t working.”   But when once you see Congress as just a perpetual litigation, then reality synchs with your model, all the facts make sense, and you accept that government is working at what little bit government can do, which is keep blood from running in the gutters.

By “litigation” I mean a non-violent adversarial contest where the stakes are unlimited asset seizure.   A courtroom is where adversaries seek to take each other’s money away, one step short of a gunfight. The alternative models for the political process are pious fictions, amusing until they become lethal.

Most amusing is this leftist cross-stitchery:  “government is just a word for what we do together.”  I can’t tell if this is naivete, from a disinterest in human nature, or a wish-dream so strong as to amount to religious mania.  Either way, I can understand how, if this is honestly your mental model, you would be frustrated when legislators from two parties spend time and energy squabbling, and getting nothing done.   In reality, Congress always gets done what litigation is designed to do, which is take money away from the other side and hand it to this side.  If you look at the American political process and expect to see “things we do together”, your cognitive dissonance will be severe.  But, let me help:  change your model.  Look at Congress through the lens of a perpetual divorce, and you’ll feel the pleasurable click of reality synching to your mental model.

James Madison was genius enough to see this.  The American system was originally designed to keep small the pool of assets vulnerable to litigation, and to balance the litigants against each other so they would need to consume their war chests inside the modest courtroom while life went on peacefully outside in the streets and farms.   That all fell apart when the progressives decided the courtroom should annex the streets and farms.  Now we are all perpetually suing each other via elections.  This is “progress”.   It ends in anarchy.

All litigation involves a cost/benefit calculation on both sides.   As the pool of assets that are at stake in the litigation gets larger, the litigants are willing to spend more and fight longer and dirtier.   Well, the pool of assets within the reach of Congress does grow ever larger.   As the size of the central government grows, the the assets at stake in the litigation become…all of them.   This can only, ever, look like the opposite of “what we do together”.   There has never been a pious dream as neurotic as that one.

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